How to Set and Maintain Annual Goals, Pt. 1

ANNUAL GOALS… The buzz is going around this time of year (December). I’ve struggled with setting annual goals in the past, so I set some time aside to analyze my process, both past and present, and create a final outline that both personal and small businesses could start with and grow from in the coming years. This is the first part of a new five part blog series on how to set and maintain annual goals.

In this first part, we will learn how to set our annual goals. I’ve created an eight step process that helps me do this. Each step is listed below with a paragraph covering the step. I end with an example from one personal and two small business goals of mine in Figure 1. These goals will be used throughout this series. I also have mine presented nicely, but having a large piece of paper to brainstorm is recommended.

  1. General Goal, Five Year: Think of a best case scenario for this goal in a five year snapshot. I will not elaborate on this very much other than you need a main goal that you could break down further in the next step. This could be an easy goal, all the way to extremely hard.
  2. General Goal, One Year: This should be a more obtainable one year version of the five year or larger goal. Still generalized, but you now have a little more direction for yourself to brainstorm later.
  3. Previous Hurdles: Typically this will be similar goal to goal for the individual filling it out. For me, not having a maintainable plan was the downfall. This was mainly due to goals lacking specifics or plans that were unrealistic with the time I was willing to dedicate towards achieving them.
  4. Next Year Variables: This may be similar goal to goal for an individual as well. For me, the unknown effects of COVID-19 on the economy and having multiple jobs could result with some of my goals not being achieved. If I were pregnant, have children, or any other dependents, I would put this here as well.
  5. Average Available Time: What time metric do you need to set this goal around? I recommend focusing on minutes or hours per day, week, or month based on your general routine. This may also change quarter (3 months period, typically starting with January) to quarter. In the below example, I have a personal goal set by week and two business goals that are set by the month.
  6. Finalize Plan and Goal: Knowing the information from the steps above, start to craft that final realistic and definable goal through a quantity of time (minutes or hours) within a range of time (day, week, month). I recommend using the extra paper for this step since you may need to play around with how this goal will transpire. You may find yourself making smaller lists of the bigger goal and having multiple mini quarterly goals for the same annual goal. Overall, this should be an outline covering anticipated steps to achieve the desired goal. For someone who is newer to setting goals, you may want one that is the same throughout the year. For a more experienced person, you may have mini milestones that change month to month resulting with a two page outline. To make for an easy read, I only showed examples below of goals that would be the same throughout the year. However, brainstorm until you feel comfortable with what you feel you can achieve. Setting the final goals at the low end may be helpful to avoid burnout and keep some work/life balance.
  7. Execute and Document: Now it is time to let your wings soar! Hopefully you have direction and can see the bigger picture of the goal from step 1 – the five year snapshot. If there are hurdles during this step it will more than likely be due to inaccurate planning or unexpected variables. Maybe you have less hours than you thought or it took a lot more time to achieve that goal. BE PERSISTENT and still document your journey. There is nothing to build from if you don’t have it documented to learn about yourself and improve over time.
  8. Review and Adjust: I recommend reviewing your goal progress at least monthly if not weekly depending on the goal. Eventually you may find you want to adjust your goals. I find having more of an outline with main milestones from step 6 makes adjustments easier. This way I focus on the next step, regardless of when I get to it. Depending on the success, you may want to adjust your goal quantity per time range to something more achievable. This may be increasing the time range to get it done or decreasing the hours you need to allot per a task if you’ve gotten quicker. Step 8 will be covered more in later parts of this series.
Figure 1. Three Examples Using the Eight Step Goal Setting Process

Hopefully setting goals seem easier after reading my process. To get a glimpse of the whole series, the five parts are listed below with general times of when to expect another post. As mentioned earlier, we will be referring to the 3 examples above throughout the series.

  • Pt 1. Set Annual Goals
  • Pt 2. Q1 Review, Early April
  • Pt 3. Q2 Review, Early July
  • Pt 4. Q3 Review, Early October
  • Pt 5. Q4 Review and Final Conclusion, Early January

If you have any questions or comments, please reach out through Instagram, email, or by booking a free introductory call here.

XOXO – Mrs. Molly Murphy